By Jen Sincero (from her NY Times Bestselling book, “You Are a Badass”, Running Press).
Something that’s SO important to have a firm grasp on if you’re going to get anywhere near reaching your full potential in this life as a writer, an artist, a businessperson, a parent, a butcher, a baker, a candlestick-maker or as a fully realized and evolved human being in general:
DO NOT WASTE YOUR PRECIOUS TIME GIVING ONE SINGLE CRAP ABOUT WHAT ANYBODY ELSE THINKS OF YOU.
Imagine how liberating that would be!
Other people’s opinions motivate every move we make in our teens and our twenties. And, as we age, if we’re moving in the right direction, our obsession with how we’re perceived by others begins to trickle away, but very few of us are able to escape its pointless grasp completely.
Meanwhile, the truth is, the only questions you ever need to consider when making decisions about your life are:
1. Is this something I want to be, do, or have?
2. Is this going to take me in the direction I want to go (not
3. Is this going to screw over* anybody else in the process?
*The definition of screwing someone over is taking their money and doing a lousy job or destroying their water source or enslaving populations, things like that—your mother being disappointed or your father disapproving or your friends being outraged does not qualify as screwing someone over.
We throw a wet blanket of ho-hummery over our lives when we live in fear of what others might think, instead of in celebration of who we are.
Yes, it’s part of our survival instinct to care—get booted from the tribe and you’ll freeze to death or starve or be eaten by wolves. But because we have big brains and the ability to manifest anything we set our minds to, there is another version that’s equally plausible: Get booted from the tribe and start, or find, another tribe that’s more your style.
You could not only wind up doing what you love surrounded by people you adore who you actually relate to, but you might one day realize you can no longer remember the names of the people whose approval you so desperately thought you would die without.
Nobody who ever accomplished anything big or new or worth raising a celebratory fist in the air did it from their comfort zone. They risked ridicule and failure and sometimes even death.
Once you step away from the herd and let your true self shine, you’ll probably find yourself in front of the opinion firing squad (especially if what you want to do is extraordinary and outside of everyone’s comfort zones), which is why so many people run screaming from the lives they’d so love to live.
Merely allowing yourself to be seen is a risk. I mean, look at how we treat celebrities—their every move is picked apart and passed around and discussed and judged and photographed without makeup on. It’s a wonder that only half of them spend time in rehab.
You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.
What other people think about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
The trick is to not only deny the criticism any power over you, but, even more challenging, to not get caught up in the praise. There’s nothing wrong with blushingly accepting a compliment, but if you find yourself always seeking outside approval that you’re good enough or cool enough or talented enough or worthy enough, you’re screwed.
Because if you base your self-worth on what everyone else thinks of you, you hand all your power over to other people and become dependent on a source outside of yourself for validation. Then you wind up chasing after something you have no control over, and should that something suddenly place its focus somewhere else, or change its mind and decide you’re no longer very interesting, you end up with a full-blown identity crisis.
All that matters is what’s true for you, and if you can stay connected to that without straying, you will be a mighty superhero.
Everything else is just other people’s perception of reality, and that is none of your business.
So how can you truly not care what other people think and be your most powerful Self?
1. ASK YOURSELF WHY
Why are you about to say or do something? Is it to be liked? To put someone down because you feel insecure? To get someone back because they made a fat joke about your mother? Or is it coming from a place of strength and truth? Are you doing it because it’ll be fun? Because you feel called to do it? Because it’ll change someone else’s life in a positive,
martyr-free way? Pay attention to your motivations (be honest). Practice coming from a place of integrity and you will be victorious.
2. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
There’s no faster way to fall prey to outside input than when you’re feeling insecure. And there’s no better way to feel insecure than knowing you half-assed something or don’t really believe in what you’re doing. No matter what it is—raising your prices or raising your children— if you do the absolute best you possibly can, and come from a
place of integrity, then you can be proud of yourself and not give a damn what anyone else thinks.
3. TRUST YOUR INTUITION
Birds use their intuition to navigate their way to breeding grounds halfway around the world. Deer and rabbits and other prey type beasts use their intuition to avoid running into predators. The average human, on the other hand, will take the advice of their drunk-before-noon neighbor across the street instead of doing what deep down we know
is best. How many times have you thought in hindsight, I knew I should have listened to my gut!?
You have an incredible, inner guidance tool that you can use whenever you need it. Tell everyone to shut up and go away, get quiet, give yourself room to feel and think. You have all the answers inside of you.
Practice sharpening your intuition, take the time to strengthen your connection to Source Energy, and trust that you know what’s best for you. The more centered and tuned-in you are, the mightier you will be (look for more tips on how to do this later in this book).
4. FIND A TEMPORARY ROLE MODEL
Find a mentor or a hero or a role model. Get clear on why this person is impressive and inspiring to you, and when faced with a challenge that leaves you guessing how to react, ask yourself, What would my hero do?
Not caring what others think is a muscle that can take some time to build up, so use this trick while you’re still getting strong, and before you know it, you’ll be able to ditch your hero and start asking yourself, What would I do?
5. LOVE YOURSELF
No matter what anyone else thinks.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT OUTSIDE OPINIONS: While you are unauthorized to base your self-worth on what other people think, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on the opportunity to benefit from outside input altogether. Especially input from those who know you well.
There is such a thing as constructive criticism, and constructive complimenting. But whether or not they are constructive depends on you.
For example, if people have been telling you for years that you’re a hothead, that they feel like they can’t be open with you because the second you disagree with them you blow up in their faces, ask yourself Is this true (be honest)? Can I use this information to better myself and the lives of others? If the answer is yes, commit to making the necessary
changes; if the answer is no, let it go.
Same goes for compliments. If people constantly tell you you’re a good listener, ask yourself, Is this compliment true for me? Can I use this information to better myself and the lives of others? Again, if the answer is yes, figure out how you can capitalize on it; if the answer is no, let it go.
Sometimes it’s easier for other people to see what we can’t see ourselves, so if they can help us connect with our truths and live happier, more authentic lives, then it’s worth taking the time to listen.
It still ultimately comes down to what’s true for you, however, so the more connected to your inner truth you are, the easier it will be to use outside opinions to your advantage, rather than let them rule your life.
Jen Sincero is a NY Times Bestselling author, speaker and success coach who has helped countless people transform their personal and professional lives via her public appearances, coaching seminars, online courses and, most recently, her New York Times Bestselling book, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (Running Press, 2013). She’s spoken on stages all over the world to everyone from entrepreneurs to multi national corporations to non profits to educational institutions, helping countless people build their dream lives. For more info visit: www.JenSincero.com